Chocolate & Israel - The Holy Food in the Holy Country
Updated: May 5
Israelis eat a ton, also when chocolate is involved. Take Pesek-Zman, a delicious wafer-chocolate combo, for example. Israelis buy 20 million of them alone each year. No surprise there, it's delicious.
The average Israeli consumes between 2.5-3 kg of chocolate annually. It might not sound like a lot, maybe compared to falafel or shawarma, but it is still a respectable amount.
Around 74% of Israelis admit to having used chocolate at least once to express their love to someone. Compared to the 87% of Americans it might not sound like much, but maybe that's because Israelis aren't too fond of showing emotions.
We've mentioned some numbers, but now it's time to get down to the serious amounts. As of 2019, 62,730,000 tablets of chocolate are sold in Israel each year. That is 9,634 tons. 9,634! That's about two-thirds as heavy as the Brooklyn Bridge, 1,500 times as heavy as an elephant, and about 85 times as heavy as a blue whale. And that is just the chocolate tablets alone, not including all the other chocolate bars, ice cream, cakes, etc.
The chocolate tablets category in Israel generates annual revenue of around 500,000,000 shekels. Doesn't that make you think of a career change?
The chocolate industry in Israel just keeps getting bigger, but where did it all begin?
You've probably seen a bar of Elite chocolate in your local makolet or supermarket, that's because Elite is both the oldest and the country's leading mass-marketed and produced brand of chocolate in Israel.
Established in 1933 by three immigrant families, Elite merged with the Strauss company (Israel's second-largest food and beverage company) in 2004.
You probably recognize them by their pervasive, and almost omnipresent logo, the elite cow.
Chocolate wasn't always such a big hit in Israel. In the first days of the state, in the time of the Tzena, the chocolate industry was one of the first to pay the toll, and the manufacturing of chocolate tablets was prohibited asides from one company, and their product had a maximum set price. It took a few years, but in 1965, importing chocolate was allowed, and thus the chocolate consumption in Israel began to grow.
From that point on, the Israeli chocolate scene grew and continues to grow to this day. In 1985, the famous Vered HaGalil factory opened in Safed, and in 1996 the "Max Brenner" chocolate shop opened in Ra'anana. The rest is pretty much history.